Happy Nearly New Year, all... one of the most popular traditions surrounding the New Year’s holiday involves using the calendar turn as a marker for new behaviors, something we all chat about as “New Year’s resolutions”. A recent employer of mine made the lion’s share of their yearly income during the month of January, as people’s pull towards this reset is a well-known psychological trigger. Sadly, only 8% of people who make New Year’s resolutions typically succeed in changing their behavior by the end of a year, according to a 2013 study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology.
So, with that success rate, should we just not make resolutions or try to shift the behaviors that disappoint us? Absolutely not. It just turns out that success in a behavioral change is far more predicated on approach, consistency, reward, and resolve than it is on a fixed date on a calendar. To that end, your Denver Nuggets appear to have already resolved to make a few changes as this season has progressed. Let’s hope that their new habits stick a little better than my recently-started diet. Here are a few resolutions for the New Year for folks who seem to have already recently started these habits.
For Nikola Jokic, a sense of balance. A balance he’s already getting better at striking. A balance between scoring and sharing. A balance between teammate and team leader. The Joker has had a lot on his plate in the last 12 months since taking the team’s reins, and making the shift can be a challenge for any player, let alone a 22-year old who was just getting his feet wet five-and-a-half years ago.
For Gary Harris, a continued sense of the joy he’s showing in playing this season. Harris is an amazing blend of cool under pressure and joyous in success, while a grin he’s been displaying more often this season than in any before. You can see that the game is unfolding for Harris, and his resolve has been firmly in place since he first joined the Nuggets. This season, Harris’ continued obsession with improvement is paying huge dividends for player and team alike. Here’s hoping he’s still smiling mid-April.
For Mason Plumlee, continued fully attached digits. No seriously, man. Keep those fingers attached to your body. I learned how much more a tough-guy Plumlee is than I when watching a Nuggets PA try fruitlessly to shove Mason’s finger back into place. Plumlee was carrying on a casual conversation with another player the whole time. I was trying not to vomit all over my couch.
For Trey Lyles, just more. Way to take advantage of an opportunity, man.
For Michael Malone, a short piece of paper, for continued shortened benches in upcoming games. Recently, Malone seems to be settling into a rotation that can succeed on both ends of the floor (when focused), and seem a Paul Millsap shy of a fairly full deck, with maybe a guard sprinkled in. Eight guys saw meaningful minutes against Minnesota last night, a tight rotation given it being their fifth game in eight nights, and the team nearly pulled out the win after a slow start. Malone’s focused lineups have been showing results of late, which only makes it tough for...
For Darrell Arthur, Emmanuel Mudiay, and especially Kenneth Faried, a sense of patience. Each of the three has made some sizable contributions at times during their Nuggets careers, and may still do so soon. But the Nuggets rotations that have been clicking the most of late have had those three riding the pine. I hate that it’s true, as I think each of them deserve to be playing the game somewhere, but if the last week-plus is indicative, this may be the pattern for a while.
For Paul Millsap, sole focus on a speedy recovery, something he’s been rocking since the moment he had step off the court. Millsap has been a positive presence on the Nuggets bench after his surgery, and seems to be well on his way thus far. Since Millsap isn’t slated to be back until post-All-Star break (at best), the best the Nuggets can hope for is a Millsap-filled last 24 games. That leaves the Nuggets with another 22 contests before they’ve got their defensive stalwart back, and it will require some re-acquaintance for everyone right as the season heats up.
For Torrey Craig, a resolved address. Craig has certainly earned a lengthier stay in Denver with his play.
For the entire team, DEFENSE. Resolve to keep playing defense. The results of that resolution are already showing themselves every time you get things together on that end of the court, and looks to be the difference between an exciting and fun Nuggets team, and something special.
As mentioned, all of these resolutions are underway, not something that will be coming on January first. Will these resolutions stick, Nuggets Nation? Are the recent changes we’ve seen a sign of the times, or of a long-term Denver Nuggets plan?
The recent lineup and scheme changes that have shown signs of success are:
This poll is closed
The answer once Millsap is back
A step in the right direction
Just a lucky few games, but not a solution
None of the above